Sports and law: for many, LL.M.s in Sports Law connect two passions. Fortunately, the global business of sport is increasingly complex, so there is a growing demand for lawyers with knowledge of this niche area.
The diverse industry requires lawyers to have a wide array of expertise so as to represent their clients, which can include professional or amateur athletes, leagues or clubs, sports venues and stadium owners and operators, or businesses or sports organizations like FIFA.
A specialist LL.M. is a clever way to acquire such smarts. The coursework in such programs may touch on a variety of legal aspects important to sports law. For example, typical classes in a Sports Law LL.M. program might cover negotiation and drafting issues, or representing a professional athlete. Because of the overlap in curriculum, some Sports Law LL.M. program might also address topics in entertainment law, as well.
Those who pursue an LL.M. in Sports Law have a variety of possible career paths to choose from. Some go on to work in the legal departments of various sports leagues around the world, or even do legal work for sports teams, whether they be football clubs, baseball teams, or hockey franchises. Other Sports Law LL.M.s might also work to represent the legal interests of professional athletes, or work in intellectual property law-related sports contracts.
See below for the Top 10 Sports Law LL.M. programs, offered by law schools around the world.
ASU has a Sports Law and Business LL.M. degree that combines two related and growing areas of practice. Based in Phoenix in Arizona, a leading destination for professionals in every sport, the school’s location is a great place to network with sports bigwigs. The law school is ranked 27th nationally by US News and has renowned faculty, including Bud Selig, the American commissioner of baseball.View School Profile
What sets the Sports Law LL.M. at the UK’s De Montfort University apart from the pack, is that it is taken via distance learning, so students do not need to give up their jobs or a salary. It’s also notable for marrying theory and practice, with students completing case studies throughout the program.View School Profile
This school offers an LL.M. in Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law that is considered one of the best in America. Being based in Miami and South Florida, home to all the major professional sports franchises in baseball, football, basketball and hockey, is a huge advantage for networking and career opportunities.View School Profile
The University of Lausanne, in Switzerland, offers a Business Law and Sports concentration as part of its LL.M. program in International Business Law. Lausanne is one of the world’s centers for global sport; it is, for instance, home to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Students can obtain two certificates: in global sports law and global sports regulation.View School Profile
The Spain-based ISDE offers a Master in International Sports Law that is highly regarded. Students study full-time in Madrid but also take classes in Switzerland and the UK’s Cambridge, providing global exposure. There are also mandatory international internships with leading law firms, clubs and governing bodies, which bolster one’s CV. Although not specifically an “LL.M.,” the course is ranked first among specialized Law programs by El Mundo and Expansión. The school’s huge alumni network is also a plus: there are over 10,000 former students, professors and program directors in 30 countries. In cooperation with the football club FC Barcelona, the school also runs a Master in Sports Management and Legal Skills program.View School Profile
The school’s LL.M. in International Sports Law is highly practical, with mock negotiations, arbitration, pre-trial behaviour analysis and litigation. It focuses in particular on football (soccer) and anti-doping law, with students presenting a case to a sporting judicial forum, such as the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), FIFA's Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC), and UK Anti–Doping. What’s more, Sheffield’s course is a distance learning program, so the opportunity cost of not working is low. And the school itself is ranked by The Guardian as among Britain’s best for law.View School Profile
Pepperdine runs the LL.M. in Entertainment, Media, and Sports Law that is taught in Malibu, California. For those interested in sports, the location is ideal, with proximity to several sports teams and events, as well as several symposiums such as Arbitrating Sports, Doping and the Culture of Sports. The school itself is home to the Institute for Entertainment, Media, Sports, and Culture.View School Profile
Nottingham Trent University, of the UK, offers an LL.M. degree in Sports Law that focuses on the regulation of sport in the UK and European Union. Students study a multidisciplinary curriculum that focuses on sports, law, the human body, health and also intellectual property. Students with no sports background can attend an international summer school ahead of the degree to get a head start. Generous scholarships are also available, covering half of the tuition fees.View School Profile
The Faculty of Law of the University of Zurich offers students on its LL.M. in International Business Law the opportunity to specialize via a course in International Sports Law, which focuses on governance and dispute resolution. Graduates of the specialization obtain a Certificate of Advanced Studies in International Sports Law, something to show to perspective employers.View School Profile
On offer at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, California, is an LL.M. specialization in Sports Law. The school is home to the Thomas Jefferson Sports Law Center, which provides niche courses and networking opportunities for lawyers across the sports sectors. Graduates have gone on to work in such positions as managing intellectual property in sports advertising, representing professional athletes, and even serving as the general manager of a major league baseball team.View School Profile